Helping make Malbec an international success

February 13, 2012
Drip Couture Insight 

International grape exchanges, huge sales increases and a Mendocinian opera singer. We talk with European Director, Andrew Maidment, about Malbec World Day and his marketing achievements.

DC: Hi Andrew, tell us about Malbec World Day.

AM: Well, Malbec World Day (MWD), is a global celebration dedicated to our flagship grape. Argentine Malbec has an amazing story that needed to be shared with the world. The grape was uprooted from France before being totally wiped out over there by frost and locusts. In France, Malbec was never really able to hold its own, but in Argentina, the grape flourished in the hardest of landscapes. Now it’s our champion export and is one of the reasons that Argentina is now on the map amongst the other great producers.

DC: So, what kind of activities and promotions did you run last year?

AM: At Wines of Argentina’s HQ in Mendoza, we organised a large press launch which included taking the press up in hot air balloons over Tupungato Winelands in the Uco Valley – one of our newest wine country clubs. We also did a pioneering collaboration where we brought over the top wine makers from Chapel Down, one of the UK’s leading winery, to learn about Malbec. They went to the vineyards used by the Gaucho restaurants and learnt all about the grape, then they brought three tonnes back to the UK and made the first ever Argentine Malbec in the UK.

DC: Gosh, that must have been a challenge?

AM: No, it all went really smoothly as it happens. The time from picking to crushing was just six days as the grapes were flown over at just three degrees in the plane with enough for 1,400 bottles, half of which will be sold by Chapel Down for Malbec World Day 2012, the other half will be used by the Gaucho. The whole event was covered by the BBC.

DC: And how about the marketing?

AM: Our main activities in 2011 were with Direct Wines and Majestic. We used Hugo & Henry’s Drip Couture as an awareness tool to help the Malbec stand out in the shops as well as drive traffic to the website with a call to action. We also had a presence at the a Sunday Times Wine Club event where Drip Couture was added to our bottles – people actually wanted to take them home with them. Five thousand bottles of Malbec with Drip Couture were also given to Concha y Toro for a cash and carry event which was also very well received.

DC: Why did you used Drip Couture over other promotional devices?

AM: Drip Couture looks great on the bottle, and, because of the drip catching functionality, is able to communicate all the way from the aisle, right through to the consumer’s home, which gives us more exposure and helped people follow the call to action. We’ve used other promo devices in the past, such as string tags, but Drip Couture is definitely the best. Its innovative form is eye catching and can be put on the bottle far more easily than other neck collars.

DC: How effective was the campaign in the UK?

AM: Actually really effective! The week after MWD, sales were up 200% in Majestic and 150% in Direct Wines. The week after, sales were still up as much as 70%, and stayed elevated throughout the whole of the year. Majestic said that Argentine Malbec was the biggest grower of 2011, and it all started with MWD. Over the year, we were also able to sustain an average price increase for Argentine wine, which is key in today’s economic climate.

DC: And how about your plans for MWD 2012?

AM: We’ll certainly be leading with Chapel Down’s Argentine Malbec, which is tasting well at the moment. We’re also looking into a kind of Malbec reward card, which will offer access to events, rewards and free tastings. Then, we have a new Argentine ambassador, Veronica Cangemi, a renowned Mendocinian soprano. We’re thinking about an activity with her and a radio station, but we can’t say more at this time. We’re also looking to do more with Drip Couture throughout 2012.

DC: Seems like you’re well on track for a great year…

AM: It’s an exciting time in the wine industry. There’s a real desire to understand consumer behaviour and the customer journey in new ways, using new digital tools. Business will still be tough due to economic pressures in Europe, but that can’t be avoided. However, Argentina’s reputation is on the up, we won twice as many international prizes as any other country at the Decanter wine awards last year. And not just for Malbec either, our unique white wine Torrentes also did well. Watch this space for a World Torrentes Day!

Visit the Malbec World Day website here.